Bottom lines are not about changing diapers. The controversy loudly acknowledged the dilemma of working mothers, which has not entered the consciousness of working fathers. Few men are signing up for the feminist suggestion that men take the title of "feminist housedude."
Feminism is fading because women in their prime earning years are distracted by the urge to procreate, and after that to supervise the upbringing of their children.
Lisa Miller argues in New York Magazine that educated, married mothers "far from the Bible Belt's conservative territories, in blue state cities and suburbs," are giving up sitting around the kitchen table with their friends railing about glass ceilings and not having it all: "They are too busy mining their grandmothers' old-fashioned lives for values they can appropriate like heirlooms they wear proudly as their own." They see domesticity as a career, cameos in a digital age.
Retro moms draw attention to what Betty Friedan, the godmother of modern feminism, missed, that satisfied full-time mothers liked their lives of domesticity and didn't want to trade them for the dissatisfactions of the workaday grind.
This is not a retreat but an "active awakening." They want to enjoy the division of labor in a marriage, with the man bringing home the money for the bread. If Mom doesn't bake the bread, the bakery has lots of healthy choices. More women, even liberal women, are homeschooling their children. Homeschoolers have grown by 10 percent over the past year in New York City.
Retro mothers know they're privileged, and not only because of what their husbands earn. Most of these "retro families" have incomes of $100,000 a year or more, but the women measure their lives in long-range dividends.
Kelly Makino, 33, a New York mother of two young children, ages 2 and 5, considers herself a feminist and a "flaming liberal" who relishes the power she wields from home: "I know this investment in my family will be paid back when the time is ripe."
No doubt. Happy Mother's Day.